Sunday, June 29, 2014

I made butter!

Because I can! I was thinking that stick-butter is not as fresh as it could be, and also not as pure as it could be and also expensive. But cream was on sale, shaking the bejeezus out of it is goo exercise for my flabby arms, and the bonus is that I get butter!

One quart of heavy whipping cream got me about 3/4 lb of butter and maybe 15oz of buttermilk for Fourth of July Biscuits!


Here's the How! I forgot to take pictures of the early stages, and then when I tried, it's really hard for a crappy phone cam to get clear pictures of uniformly white milk, but here's what you do:
  • Gather your supplies:
    • A jar to shake the cream in -- I used one of the tall ones olives come in
    • A jar to pour off the buttermilk into -- as you can see, I used a spaghetti sauce jar
      • make sure these don't have lingering smells if you're reusing old jars; butter soaks up smells like woah
    • A bowl to put the butter in
    • A spoon to mash the rest of the buttermilk out when you're done
  • Pour maybe half a jar, or a little less, of cream and make sure the lid is really, really tight.
  • Shake it.
  • A lot.
  • Like, really a lot.
It'll go through stages that are all usable:
  1. Cream
  2. Thickened and expanded cream that's good for, say, berries and cream, or as another layer of texture in a strawberry shortcake, like a custard sauce without the egg or the cooking
  3. Whipped cream
  4. After the whipped cream gets really whipped, it'll stop moving all together. This is clotted cream, perfect for scones, and a delicious flavor halfway between stiff whipped cream and butter. And it's the sign that the butter is almost there, so that's when you shake it WAY HARD. Like, the way you shake a brand new glass ketchup bottle to make the ketchup move, that hard slam down. Make sure the lid is still really tight or you'll make a HUGE mess.
  5. Then, all at once, it'll just sort of thunk in the jar, and the whipped cream will break and the butter will suddenly be butter. Shake it a few more times to glob all the butter together, and then pour off the buttermilk and pile up the blobs of brand new butter into the bowl!



Look how pretty it is!

This much took me I think five repetitions--apparently a full quart is a lot more than I was expecting, but it gave me so much butter. Each time around took somewhere between ten and twenty minutes to get from cream to butter-blob, the time getting longer as my arms got tired, but it was never really undoable--even if you only shake it a little, it'll eventually become butter; it just takes longer. So just keep shaking!


You can eat it as soon as it's all done, if you're going to eat it that day. Last time I made butter, years and years ago, I made way less and we ate it straight from that stage on bread that was out of the cooker at about the same moment the butter was done, and it was glorious, but it didn't need to last so I didn't worry about this next step.

If you're going to keep it, though, you'll need to rinse the rest of the buttermilk out of it so that it won't spoil the butter. Did you know you can literally just wash butter? Well, you can!

Use your spoon (stick it in the fridge while you shake so it won't melt things) to mash the butter all together into a ball. Sort of knead it like dough. Some of the remaining buttermilk will squish out like that. Then, like above, fill the bowl with clean, cool water, knead it some more, and pour off the water. Do this maybe three more times, until it's just water and butter-oil coming off, until the water is pretty clear. Keep mashing it along the sides of the bowl, and don't, like, whip it--the goal is to get moisture OUT of the fat!

And be careful pouring the water off--as the moisture comes out, the butter will start floating! I almost lost all my hard work down the sink!


You can leave the butter "sweet", or you can salt it. I like salty butter. I also happened to have pink Hawaiian salt, so this picture actually showed up! You can use whatever salt you have, somewhere between a half tsp and a tsp, until it tastes as salty as you'd like. When you knead this through, you might get more drainage; just pour it off.


You can just leave it in the bowl if you like, but I had these cute bento-box deals that I've lost the lids to, and they were just exactly the right size, so I lined one with plastic, spooned in and squished the air out, and then folded the plastic up!


Tada! Perfect to set up in the fridge!


Except for this bit that I totally had to eat. This is a premade tortilla because I ate all the ones I made myself, and it still tasted AMAZING. I'm making more tortillas tomorrow, and I can't wait to see how amazing it tastes on them, hot off the griddle and toasty!

Some notes!
  • Butter doesn't really need to be refrigerated, and actually tastes better at room temp, but it will only last a few days before it goes rancid. Keep out only what you'll use. You can freeze the rest, it shouldn't damage it at all, but wrap it up really well because it WILL take on freezer-smells.
  • You can mix any herb or spice into the butter before you fridge or freeze it.
  • You can also preserve butter by either canning it, or turning it into ghee
  • My hands are super-soft now from handling the butterfat. Also, my shirt is milky from that time I opened the jar and it splattered.
Have you made butter before? Would you? I think I'm going to add this to my list of old things to do--the exercise alone makes it worth it, I think!
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